February 5, 2007

M. Hockey Splits With Top League Opponents

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Talk about riding the momentum. After defeating rival Colgate at home last weekend to get its first win of the year, the No. 20 men’s hockey team (11-8-3, 7-5-3 ECCHL) roared out to a two-goal lead in the opening five minutes and scored three first-period goals to defeat No. 8 Clarkson (16-7-4, 8-4-3), 5-1, at Lynah Rink on Friday night.

Rookie Colin Greening netted two goals, senior Mitch Carefoot had a goal and two assists for the first three-point game of his career and sophomore Michael Kennedy added a goal and an assist. Freshman Tony Romano scored Cornell’s final goal, while Clarkson junior Shawn Weller scored his team’s only tally on the power play, assisted by classmates David Cayer and Steve Zalewski. Cornell outshot Clarkson 33-27 and was 1-for-6 on the power play, while Clarkson was 1-for-5 with a man advantage.

[img_assist|nid=21121|title=Can’t Stop Him|desc=Sophomore Michael Kennedy (18) scores the Red’s lone goal in a 2-1 loss to St. Lawrence on Saturday night. Senior Mitch Carefoot extended his points streak to three games with an assist on the play|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=62]

“I thought they were obviously better than us tonight,” said Clarkson head coach George Roll. “They came, they competed, they won all the lose puck battles. They set the tempo early in the game. We knew they’d come out hard, and we certainly didn’t match their intensity. … If you don’t come ready to work every night in our league, you’re in for a long night.”

With recently-retired NHL star Joe Nieuwendyk ’88 in attendance, the Red put on a scoring spectacle that forced the league’s third-place squad to pull junior goaltender David Leggio midway through the third period in favor of senior Kyle McNulty. Leggio, who picked up his fifth loss of the season, made 25 saves but allowed all five goals. His counterpart, freshman Ben Scrivens, started and won for the second consecutive game, making 26 saves and temporarily alleviating talk of a Red goaltending crisis.

“He played great. They had some offensive players out there who could really work it down low, and he stood on his head there a few times,” Carefoot said of Scrivens. “If it wasn’t for him, it could’ve been a different score.”

The game got off to a wild start when Kennedy opened the scoring at 3:17 with his fourth goal of the season, putting the puck in the net with a feed from Carefoot. It wouldn’t be the last time the pair combined to score on the night, as the duo would total five points in the rout.

“Our line’s playing pretty good,” Carefoot said. “Getting out to a quick lead there kind of helped us keep on flowing out there and keep on moving. … We’re getting back to not throwing the puck away, protecting the puck more often than we usually do and not just trying to hope for something through the slot.”

“I thought we came out with real good intensity,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “The past few games we’ve had that kind of start and just haven’t been able to get it past the guy, and tonight we were.”

Only 1:37 after the first goal, Greening supplied the Red all the offense it would need to capture the victory. Working the puck into the offensive zone, senior captain Byron Bitz found junior Raymond Sawada, who slid the puck over to Greening in the left corner. The first-year forward then skated his way along the red line towards goal, and demonstrating the guile of a veteran skater, faked out the goaltender and stuffed his shot past Leggio. Bitz’s earned his team-high 11th league assist on the play.

The Red continued to dominate possession in its attacking zone while standing firm in its defensive third, blocking shots and passes frequently. Nearly 10 minutes after the game’s second goal, the Red got a third thanks to familiar scoring duo — Kennedy and Carefoot. Kennedy worked the puck into the zone and sent it along to Carefoot high along the left wing, at which point the veteran took care of the rest. The senior deked past one defenseman and headed towards goal, baited Leggio to hit the ice and skated around net for the wraparound finish. Leggio was beat on three wraparound goals in the game, though according to his coach, there wasn’t much his starting goaltender could’ve done to prevent them.

“[Our defensive effort] wasn’t good. It was pretty evident we didn’t stay with our men. They were stronger, they got to the net; we just got caught out of position,” Roll said. “If our guys can’t handle our guys down low, I don’t care how good your goalie is. And tonight he came out, challenged, and [Cornell] made some nice plays where they got him out, got him down and then used the wraparound. But, that wasn’t the difference tonight. David’s played awfully well and tonight wasn’t a reflection of his play.”

Clarkson capitalized on the power play to close the gap to two goals after Bitz received a roughing penalty. Moving the puck all the way around the offensive zone, Clarkson caught the Red playing undisciplined defense and got a little help from a fortuitous rebound. Scrivens stopped Cayer’s initial shot, but after deflecting off a Cornell player, the puck fell to Weller, who beat Cornell special teams players to the puck and lifted his shot over Scrivens’ pad. Zalewski received an assist on the play to add to increase his total to 11 in the league, pacing the Golden Knights.

The score remained the same until 7:48 in the second period, when Carefoot’s shot on the power play was picked up off the boards behind net by Greening, who wrapped the puck into the net for the Red’s fourth goal.

“Mitch is playing, obviously, the best hockey of his career — playing with great confidence. He’s been solid in all aspects of the game,” Schafer said. “He’s done it all and he’s been on a roll.”

And the Red added a final goal in the third period from Romano, though the game’s outcome had already been determined. Romano, who drew cheers from the crowd on numerous occasions with highlight reel puck handling, received a pass after classmate Justin Milo split two Golden Knight defenders with a highlight reel move of his own. With Leggio having to slide across the net to cover Romano, the wide-open forward took his time and calmly fired into the unguarded netting, scoring his eighth goal of the season — tying him for the team lead with Carefoot and Sawada — and a team-leading six ECACHL goals.

Milo and sophomore Taylor Davenport got their first assists of the season on the play, and only a minute later, Leggio was pulled from the game, unofficially ending the Clarkson threat and prompting muted elation from the Cornell bench.

“I know we’re playing good hockey right now, and that’s all you can ask for,” Greening said.